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General News of Thursday, 25 February 2021

Source: GNA

Government undertakes feasibility studies on Integrated Light rail system

John Peter Amewu, MP, Hohoe John Peter Amewu, MP, Hohoe

The Government of Ghana is undertaking feasibility studies on the Integrated Light Railway system, Mr John Peter Amewu, Minister Designate for Railways Development announced on Wednesday, in Accra.

Light rail or light rail transit (LRT) is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems.

The term is used to refer to rail systems with rapid transit-style features that usually used electric rail cars operating mostly in private rights-of-way separated from other traffic, but sometimes, if necessary, mixed with other traffic in city streets.

The Minister Designate, who held the Energy, and Lands and Natural Resources portfolios in the first term of the Akufo-Addo led government, was nominated to be Railway Development Minister at the beginning of his second term.

“Feasibility studies are currently ongoing,” the Minister-Designate told the Appointments Committee of Parliament, at the Parliament House, in Accra, where the Committee was vetting him to assess his suitability for the ministerial portfolio.

He told the Committee, that the Government was studying the system, and there was no details for now.

Mr Amewu said the lines of proposed Ghana’s intercontinental railway, which starts from Accra, through Tema, and Hohoe where he is the Member of Parliament, and Tamale continues to Bolgatanga to Ouagadougou.“

According to Mr Amewu, a kilometre of railway line cost from $6 million to 7 million.

He agreed to a suggestion to have water, electricity and communication cables fitted to railway development infrastructure.

He described encroachment of lands belonging to the Ghana Railway Authority as a serious problem, but it was more cost-effective to acquire other lands than to demolish structures on encroached lands, as measures were adopted to protect the rest.

Mr Amewu promised to put in every measure to continue to build on the work of his predecessor and assured the Committee that if approved, the Ministry would take steps to construct a rail line to link Kumasi to Tema through the Boankra inland port.

The Committee quizzed the Minister-Designate on death threats he issued to MPs on the opposition side on the day of the inauguration of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, and other alleged threat, to which he apologized, and promised not to repeat those threats.

“These are still learning stages; I don’t expect it to happen again,” the Minister-Designate said.

On the botched Power Distribution Service (PDS) deal last year, the Former Energy accepted responsibility for the failed concession deal, and said despite the cabinet taking the decision to terminate the deal, he holds himself responsible since he was sector minister at the time.

“As the sector minister at the time, I’m responsible for the asset and reliability of the ministry and so yes even though it was a cabinet decision, yes I take responsibility for it,” the Minister-Designate said.

Government in July suspended the concession for the operation and maintenance of the assets and facilities of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) awarded to PDS.
The Minister Designate gave an assurance of that there was no looming threat of judgement debt in that abrogated deal.

“There’ll not be any judgment debt in the future, Mr Amewu, who is also a debutant MP for Hohoe Constituency, said.

He said he was sure he would have gotten more votes in the Hohoe Constituency if eligible voters in the newly created Guan District-g Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi (SALL) had voted in the constituency during the 2020 parliamentary election.

“I sympathise with my brothers and sisters at SALL for not taking part in the parliamentary elections. I went into the elections as a player and not a referee. I did not constitute the rules that were in place for me to come and contest,” Mr Amewu said.

He added: “I just went in as a contestant and unfortunately, for one reason or another, they were not allowed to vote in Hohoe. I sympathise with them and I would have been happy if the people of SALL had voted because, in 2004 and 2008, those were my strongholds. If they had voted, I would have even won with a higher margin.”

He denied seizing the excavators during his tenure as Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, explaining that the excavators were withdrawn and not seized.

“While I was the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, I never seized any excavator. What I did when I was the Minister for that sector was to ask for the withdrawal of excavators from mining sites. About 500 were withdrawn from the sites, but they were not seized,” Mr Amewu said.